"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession."
The memoir is a unique form of creative nonfiction. By definition, it is a branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing, with or offering opinions of conjectures upon facts and reality, including biography, history and the essay (as opposed to fiction and distinguished from poetry and drama).
Most readers will approach a memoir with a ready suspension of willing disbelief, assuming that the author is being completely truthful and has no hidden agenda. However, the fact remains that anyone who publishes any type of manuscript always has a goal in mind. Some write for profit or prestige. Others compose simply to entertain or to prove a point. Whatever the motivation, any form of narrative is aimed towards a potential audience. This includes even private journals that serve as a feedback loop to gauge personal growth and development of perspective.
The recent revelation by the credible biographer, David Mariniss, that Obama's portrayal of the girlfriend of his college days in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, is fictional may not seem like a big deal for many of the politician's devoted supporters, but from a purely critical literary point of view, it means a lot. Or, at least, it should.
Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian Nobel Laureate, once said: "In journalism, just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work." If this is true, than Obama's autobiography is not to be taken at face value by the discerning reader. His confession is disingenuous at best and blatantly deceitful at worst. His agenda for publishing the memoir is debatable.